Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (October 17th, 2010)

From Kyoshi David Baker,
Chief Administrator,
Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA

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High-Low Training Exercise


“High-Low” is a training exercise we use, often in conjunction with Yakusoku Kumite and 3-Point Arm Training, and it shares some of the characteristics of both.


Benefits
A. Builds eye-hand coordination:
As you become more proficient with rapid blocking exercises like High-Low, you will instinctively block an incoming attack before you’re aware of its existence.
(While walking down the street, minding your own business, the thought arises: “Why is my arm in the air? Oh, I just blocked a punch to my head.”)

B. Builds sense of Ma-ai:
Along with regular practice of Yakusoku Kumite and Bunkai, repetition of High-Low develops good awareness of effective distancing. After all, most people stand too far away from their opponent to effectively strike them. High-Low shows you how close you have to stand to drive a punch through your opponent.
C. Overcome blinking:
The natural instinct is to blink and/or flinch when attacked by a technique to the face. However, this blinking prevents you from seeing the technique precisely when you need to most, and thereby degrades your ability to defend effectively. The High-Low Training Exercise, helps overcome this blinking instinct, enabling you to keep the eyes open, to see the attack fully, and thereby to block it efficiently.

You’ll practice keeping your eyes open as your partner punches at your face, substituting that instinct – keeping your eyes open as it approaches; for the inborn one – which is blinking.

Along these lines, the same instinct holds for baseball hitters too. Again, their natural instinct is to blink as the pitched ball approaches. However, it is said that the great hitters are able to actually see the stitching on the ball as it approaches, and therefore its rotation, so great is their concentration and focus.

D. Conditions forearms, as does Tanren kumite.

The technique
Both hands punch, from the pocket, using full extension toward the target. Only one hand blocks against each punch, in sequence. And both the high block and the chest block are made by the ulnar surface of the blocking arm.
Start slowly and build the pace gradually, until the punches become a blur. Each time you inevitably lose the rhythm and have to stop, just start again, building from slow to a blur. Eventually, build the amount of time where you and your partner maintain the blur.

1. Squatting position:
Right hand:
Squat opposite your partner in Jigotai-dachi. Deshi #1 punches with right hand to nose, while #2 blocks with left hand (ulna up). Immediately, 1 punches with left hand to stomach, while 2 blocks with LEFT hand (ulna down). 2 punches with right hand to nose, while 1 blocks with left hand. 2 punches with left hand to stomach, while 1 blocks with LEFT hand. Repeat.

It’s important that there be no pause between any technique. Each one follows immediately. Again, both hands punch, right then left, while only the left hand blocks (like a window wiper.)

Left hand:
Then, do the exercise with the left hand punching to the nose, right hand punching to the stomach; while the right hand does all the blocking.


2. Standing position:
Right hand:
Take a “passive stance”*, both of you standing with your left foot forward, hands in “fighting position”. #1 punches with right hand to nose, while #2 blocks with left hand. (Neither steps, keep your feet planted.) Immediately, 1 punches with left hand to stomach, while 2 blocks with LEFT hand. 2 punches with right hand to nose, while 1 blocks with left hand. 2 punches with left hand to stomach, while 1 blocks with LEFT hand. Repeat.

* “Passive stance” is not a Shorin-Ryu stance, but rather one we adopt for convenience during certain training exercises.


This standing version, as opposed to the more static, squatting version, will take on a more flexible, almost tree-swaying-in-the-wind effect as each attacker in turn leans in (again, no stepping, keep the feet planted) to punch the face and then leans back to block his partner’s punch to his own face. This is a slight movement, but should not be exaggerated.

Left hand:
Then, do the exercise standing with the right foot forward, the left hand punching toward the nose, right hand punching toward the stomach; while the right hand does all the blocking.

Have fun with it, almost like a game of tag. And as always with karate, no ego, just work with your partner to make each other better.


Domo arigato gozaimasu,
Kyoshi David Baker,
Chief Administrator,
Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA
founded by Grand Master Ansei Ueshiro
under the direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione